This is a "best of" collection containing sixteen re-worked versions of Americana artist James Talley's classic early songs from the four albums he did for major labels in the mid-1970s ("Got No Bread, No Milk, No Money," "Tryin' Like the Devil," "Blackjack Choir" & "Ain't It Somethin'"). All of the songs have been re-recorded with new arrangements, new musicians & current sonic quality.
has at times been known as the Poet of the Common Man, but the title could just as easily apply to James Talley. A fine Nashville-based singer-songwriter with a gift for writing stirring portraits of working-class heroes, Talley has kicked around for years without getting the big break he deserves. In the 1970s he recorded four highly regarded albums for Capitol, none of which are currently in print. For the exquisitely beautiful Touchstones
, Talley has culled 16 of his favorite songs from those albums and rerecorded them with a crack band of Texans, including guitarist Tommy Detamore (who coproduced) and fiddler Bobby Flores, both of whom worked with the late Doug Sahm
. In a simple voice that sounds a bit like Tom T. Hall
's, Talley sings about everyday people just barely getting by, like the "pot-bellied truckers drinkin' coffee / With a redheaded waitress named Louise" in "Tryin' Like the Devil," or the dying "black lung miner from East Tennessee" in "Give My Love to Marie." The gorgeous "Sometimes I Think About Suzanne" finds Talley reminiscing about a lost love--and wondering what might have been. Never mind that the album's 16 songs are all at least 25 years old--they're timeless. --David Hill